Jiang Chen’s shout was extremely sudden; Yan Qingsang didn’t have the space to stop him in time. The young man’s expression darkened. “Brother Shao Yuan, what are you doing? Such behavior is unbecoming of a gentleman.”
Jiang Chen chuckled. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Let us proceed.”
If Huang’er really was on the other side of the wall, she would’ve heard. There was no need for him to linger; he’d give himself away if he did.
“Never again, I hope,” Yan Qingsang harrumphed.
Jiang Chen nodded with a smile. “Your blunt refusal makes me a bit sad, my friend. Even if your sister is breathtakingly beautiful, I don’t see anything wrong with what I said. Why are you so tense about it? Has she never seen a person from the outside world in her entire life?”
Yan Qingsang had no desire to continue the conversation. He sighed. “Well, I hope you took what I said to heart. No more of that. As for why? Honestly, it’s a long story… and not one that has to be told.”
He evidently wanted Jiang Chen to move on as quickly as possible. “Let us observe civility, Brother Shao Yuan,” he remarked coolly, then turned. “Come.”
The music came to a sudden halt as soon as Jiang Chen’s shout was heard. Huang’er’s fingers pressed down on the strings of her zither. Her body trembled, and she almost collapsed. Then, she recalled what Elder Shun had told her.
He’d said her that she was likely under constant surveillance.
Thus, she kept a lid on her rising excitement. But it was difficult to smooth over her inner turmoil for the time being. How could she play any more?
Shao Yuan? Shao Yuan? Countless thoughts flickered across her mind. Didn’t Brother Chen use that name all those years ago? When he passed by Pillfire City on his journey to Tilted Moon Region, this was the name he used. This is the name that Peerless first knew him by. Can... can it really be him?
Her questions were more self-reassuring rhetorical than anything else. She was almost certain that it was indeed Jiang Chen!
The thought of it filled her with uncontrollable passion. She wanted to take a look herself several times, but held herself back each time.
She warned herself over and over not to make a wrong move. If there were hidden observers, she would only elicit their suspicion by doing so. She was clever enough to gradually calm down after realizing this fact.
Her heart had been like a boat in the midst of a tempestuous sea, helpless in dilapidating despair. But a ray of sunlight had dawned on her dark soul, filling her with incredible warmth.
Brother Chen had come!
The man that she’d wished for night and day had finally arrived!
She had firmly believed that her beloved would eventually come find her in Myriad Abyss Island. And now, he was finally before her!
Though this wasn’t Eternal Divine Nation, what difference did that make?
Brother Chen must have suffered a lot to find me. The man from Winterdraw with a bounty on his head – Jiang Huang – that must be him as well!
He must’ve heard about the ancient jade festival in Bluesmoke, how the Ten Divine Nations’ houses would participate. He must’ve known through intuition alone that I would come. His pseudonym was to notify me, and he purposefully loudly complimented my music just now. All his trouble sneaking into House Yan’s residence was to look for me, to tell me he’s here so that I can be at ease…
Huang’er felt that her heart was going to melt.
She could imagine the amount of trouble he’d gone to in order to find and approach her. It both touched and pained her heart.
A youth from the human domain coming to Myriad Abyss Island was arduous enough. That, plus a bounty from Polylore Divine Nation… Huang’er understood all the hardship and difficulties involved, very much so.
She wanted to leap into Jiang Chen’s arms right now. Only that could alleviate the heartache caused by their separation. But reason told her that now was the time to remain absolutely level-headed.
If she acted rashly, the house elders could utterly crush their dreams of reuniting with mere moments.
On the other side, Jiang Chen had been dragged off by Yan Qingsang to learn all about ancient jade secrets.
Jiang Chen’s own heart was entirely tied to Huang’er right now. Still, he mustered all his intellect to tackle seriously each and every question Yan Qingsang had, while he tried to brainstorm a way to meet his beloved.
He could vaguely sense two presences where Huang’er was, watching her in secret. It was enough to sober him up completely.
Huang’er wasn’t in a good spot at home. She was carefully guarded even in this temporary residence. It was virtually impossible to speak with her one-on-one. But his shout had been more than enough to inform her of his presence. That was enough for now.
Yan Qingsang turned out to be a studious and single-minded youth. He discussed ancient jade for three days and nights straight, stopping only when Jiang Chen mentioned several times that he wanted to rest. All food and drink consumed during that time had been delivered to the room.
The jade festival was about to start in another few days. Jiang Chen wanted to bid farewell and return to his inn, but Yan Qingsang was reluctant.
Still, the young man had enough self-awareness not to force Jiang Chen into extending the teaching session. They settled into a routine of lessons during daytime, and regular sleep schedules at night.
“Brother Shao Yuan, the jade festival is in three days. There’s a family dinner tonight that I’d like you to attend as well. Teach them a few things about ancient jade. I’d like to show them that a friend of Yan Qingsang is far from a waste of food.”
A family dinner?
Jiang Chen was assailed by a number of thoughts. “Sure. But is it really alright for an outsider like me to attend your family dinner?”
“Why not? You’re a brother of mine. I say that you can!” After a few days of discussion, Yan Qingsang was thoroughly impressed with Jiang Chen’s wealth of knowledge.
He’d been hesitant before that, but true wisdom was difficult to falsify. Additionally, Jiang Chen had inserted a fair deal of his own ideas and ideologies into their teaching sessions. His learning and mastery of the world was more than enough to win Yan Qingsang over completely. This was exactly the kind of effect he’d wanted to achieve.
The family dinner was simply a casual gathering between all House Yan members who’d come to the Bluesmoke Isles.
There was a matter to be discussed at this dinner, naturally. The topic du jour: the jade festival.
When Yan Qingsang appeared at the dinner with Jiang Chen in tow, Yan Jinnan launched another offensive. “What do you mean by this, Yan Qingsang? Why have you brought the outsider to a family dinner? I guess you really don’t consider him an outsider, do you?”
“Certainly not! He’s a brother to me.” Yan Qingsang’s rebuttal was straightforward. “Yan Jinnan, enough of your ravings. I called you Brother Jinnan back at the Jade Revel Lodge because I wanted to give you some face. I don’t feel that you deserve it anymore – you have no right to mouth off like this.”
These two were completely at odds with each other now.
As an actual outsider, it wasn’t Jiang Chen’s place to intercede. He merely stood before Yan Jinnan with calm and poise, unfaltering before the latter’s feeble attempt at intimidation.
At this moment, a pretty figure walked out from the end of the hall. Jiang Chen looked over.
His heart almost leaped out of his chest.
It was the girl that occupied his thoughts day and night. She’d appeared before him so easily!
Yan Jinnan glanced at her with a sneer. “Yan Qingsang, your entire branch is heretical and traitorous. This missy here betrayed the house by fleeing many years ago, and now you’ve brought in an outsider to a family dinner. Are you trying to tell me something…?”
“Shut up, Yan Jinnan.” Huang’er was the one to reply. Her exquisite visage was positively frigid. “Do you believe that if I were to kill you now, no one in the house will do anything to me?”
She leveled an emotionless gaze at him, her eyes flashing with cold fury.
It was daytime, but Yan Jinnan shivered at the chill. Though he was a genius of the house, Miss Huang’er was too.
Even the best genius of the house, Yan Zhenkui, couldn’t claim that he was more gifted than the young woman before him. She had simply remained reticent all these years.
Jiang Chen was astonished by Huang’er’s movements. She was shockingly half-step empyrean already. Hadn’t she been below great emperor the last time he’d seen her? Evidently, she’d made tremendous progress in the interim.
When he’d first made her acquaintance, Huang’er’s cultivation had been far above his. A single motion from her back in Regal Pill Palace had scared off an arrogant Ninesuns disciple at the time.
She had superb martial dao talent, but her Generation Binding Curse had limited her. Now that it was gone, her cultivation surged, unimpeded like a flood breaking through a dam. It had taken her the short span of several years to breeze past great emperor, reaching half-step empyrean with ease.
Yan Jinnan paled. His lips curled, and he moved as if to retort something, but stopped himself.
He didn't suspect the veracity of her words for a moment. If she did manage to kill him, there was no way the house would punished her. As of right now, she was the entire house’s lifeline.